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12:10 AM
Q: Is there any deeper significance to Borges's "The South"?

Rand al'Thor"The South" is a short story by Jorge Luis Borges about a man, Dahlmann, who is injured by bashing his head against a window, but makes an almost miraculous recovery after a long stint in hospital. He heads out to the countryside in the hope of convalescence, but is unwillingly embroiled in a kni...

12:23 AM
Screenshot for posterity, since these comments surely have been or soon will be deleted:
New Hot Network Question(s) detected:
Q: 227 days in Life of Pi, coincidence or symbolical?

wythagorasI'm wondering whether it is known whether the 227 days in Life of Pi symbolical is for pi or that the symbolism I see (as a mathematician :)) is pure coincidence. I think that it is symbolic for pi because pi ~ 22/7, which is quite well-known.

(I'm poking through Goodreads. Have added about a thousand books to my account, still going strong.)
I wonder if Native American culture would be a good place to look for questions about oral literature.
I wonder if this site could field the idea that this might not be oral history.
@BESW Not having read that article in detail ... if it's not oral history, what is it?
12:54 AM
It's a record of a moment in oral history.
Think about the differences between a clip from a film and the film, and between a novelisation of a film and the film.
The medium is the massage and tape recordings are not the medium of oral literature.
So...trying to record is a bad idea because recording destroys the concept of oral history?
Recording oral history is not bad.
Better dictate it than record it
Confusing a recording with the oral history it's a recording of--that'd be bad.
Just like House of Leaves encodes significant meaning in the experience of physically interacting with the book, oral history encodes significant meaning in the times and places it's told, who it's told by and to whom it is told.
@VicAche Or that.
12:59 AM
Dictation to text is equally okay, but equally the resultant text is no longer oral literature.
@BESW But wouldn't confusing the actual oral account with what happened already expose that problem?
I beg to disagree with the "exactly"
Afterall, everything that didn't happen now isn't now.
I think you're confusing past and history
Let's call it recorded history...
This is an ongoing discussion amongst scholars from oral traditions, and there's no consensus on right or wrong practices.
1:01 AM
@BESW I feel that is merely just disabling the practice of calling anything oral history, which...is a nice terminological twist, but doesn't seem to be more than that.
@NapoleonWilson I don't understand what you're trying to say in this, or your previous message to me.
Well, ditto, I guess. ;-)
(Also, please note, that oral history is a subset of oral literature and oral traditions.)
I'll just try to start anew then with: as soon as oral history derives its meaning from the way when and where it's told, then it isn't pure history anymore, whatever it is.
(What I'm saying is true of any message which contains significant oral-specific encoding.)
1:04 AM
@BESW I guess that might be my mistake then. I'll rather crawl back under my rock. Sorry. ;-)
@NapoleonWilson Then what is history?
So doesn't a recording of someone giving oral history containing significan oral-specific encoding?
@NapoleonWilson History as in a completely factual account? Well, sure, but neither is written history, whatever some historians may pretend ;-)
@Randal'Thor Indeed.
@VicAche Yes, but only a small fraction of the encodings possible.
1:05 AM
6 mins ago, by Napoleon Wilson
@BESW But wouldn't confusing the actual oral account with what happened already expose that problem?
@BESW that's what's disagreed with in my answer on Odysseus
@BESW I don't see how that makes it less oral or less history
@BESW orality is about possibilities (I'm not saying speech, I'm saying orality. You can read out a speach many time, or you can write many versions of an oral history)
These are exactly the ideas that I'm not sure the site can currently field, but which discussions of oral literature need to have the vocabulary and context for.
These are the debates.
Great demonstration then, well done!
However, do we need an agreement on this to ask and answer questions on (oral literature/replace by your educated troll subject of choice here)?
The conclusions will change between cultures and contexts, as Aboriginal oral traditions are very different from Alaskan Native oral traditions.
We don't need agreement on the subject matter; that would defeat the point of a Stack that can handle literary analysis.
It'd be nice to have the tools to talk about it from a position of knowledge.
There's a line to walk between "ask the questions and the experts will come" and "know what you're talking about or the experts will point and laugh and leave."
So what's missing is just a "what are some tool for oral literature discussion?" question with great answers?
1:11 AM
That'd be a good start.
I think we have different cultures on this tho
My culture (not talking just about my character) would be: if somebody asks a question that you can answer, however imperfectly, answer it and wait for others to correct or add in
which mean that we have a high tendency to interfere in other's answers
but that no French scholar will be attracted by a website with no questions or no answers
There are other kinds of questions about oral traditions which the site might be better able to handle. Like, say, it might be very cool to compare indigenous and European records of horses in the Americas.
Brb, editing this into all the meta posts about authorial intent.
1:17 AM
And issues of Western intellectual property laws as they apply to traditions which are owned tribally (does Disney's Moana change who has legal rights to the stories of Māui?).
Heck, there's standing questions about whether the people who gave Disney those stories had the right to.
Thing is, there's basically no Western court of law that would recognise tribal ownership of indigenous oral literature.
Various tribes are developing work-arounds, but none of them are satisfactory as it all requires re-defining tribal concepts of ownership to fit into the Western intellectual property mould.
Check out the legal struggles regarding pākehā use of the haka, for example.
That's one instance, yes.
The terms traditional knowledge (TK), indigenous knowledge (IK), and local knowledge generally refer to knowledge systems embedded in the cultural traditions of regional, indigenous, or local communities. Traditional knowledge includes types of knowledge about traditional technologies of subsistence (e.g. tools and techniques for hunting or agriculture), midwifery, ethnobotany and ecological knowledge, traditional medicine, celestial navigation, ethnoastronomy, the climate, and others. These kinds of knowledge, crucial for subsistence and survival, are generally based on accumulations of empirical...
@BESW isn't that contradicted by this?
1:30 AM
There's... movement toward a better implementation of that concept.
But it's still a work in progress and is fundamentally applying Western ownership concepts to indigenous properties rather than recognising indigenous ownership concepts.
It's an epistemological contact zone.
(BTW, that haka article has the pākehā PM saying that he thinks the All Blacks should be allowed to use the haka without any changes in their arrangement because "they have had the rendition of Ka Mate for a long time." By which he means they stole it a hundred years ago.)
Generally speaking I'd suggest looking for indigenous perspectives on these issues. Magazines and newspapers like e-tangata, Indian Country Media Network, and even Colorlines are good places to start learning who's talking about themselves in ways that other indigenous people respect.
Wikipedia and Western newspapers, no matter how well-meaning they might be, just aren't going to be able to plumb the depth of these subjects. Wikipedia, for example, buries worldwide indigenous concerns about the flaws in prior art laws as a protection for traditional knowledge, in the last paragraphs of the section on Indian medicine. And the Guardian doesn't challenge or question the PM's assertions that stealing indigenous traditions should go unredressed if it happened long enough ago.
1:57 AM
Will read that with a fresh mind but thanks for the refreshing sources!
1 hour later…
2:57 AM
New topic challenge suggestion:
A: Suggest your Lit.SE reading challenges here!

Rand al'ThorTopic challenge: Icelandic Sagas I think suggesting a single one would be too narrow a challenge to catch many people's interest, but Icelandic sagas as a whole definitely form an interesting (and influential) part of literature. I don't know too much about them, but some rudimentary research su...

Nice, I've read 1 or 2 of them.
That being said, thinking they're anything but romanticized and Christianized prose versions of whatever the original story was might be...naive.
Well, the issue of how they've changed from the original stories to the written versions that survive today could make a good question in itself.
Well, sure. The points that make them relevant still apply, as do other points that make them culturally interesting. But putting too much emphasis on their alleged nature as "almost oral" tradition might be a stretch.
They sure can't compete with whatever truely indigenous oral traditions those things discussed earlier are.
Edited slightly to put more emphasis on that difference.
I'd be interested to know if there are surviving Icelandic oral traditions.
Certainly Icelandic oral and written traditions co-existed and cross-pollinated for many centuries before the arrival of foreign folklorists.
3:16 AM
Iceland has a long and interesting history.
And I'm given to understand that waves of musical literacy influenced the saga traditions as well.
They lay claim to the world's oldest parliament (the Althing).
They still use patronymic surnames.
Their alphabet has letters which are found in (AFAIK) no other alphabet in the world except phonetic ones.
I would be a little concerned that questions about the sagas might be more along the lines of "how do Icelandic sagas influence LotR?"
Such questions are obviously topical and appropriate, but I'd consider it one of the least interesting ways to engage with the texts.
@BESW Edited again to stress that the topic challenge would be primarily about the sagas themselves and not other works influenced by them.
@Randal'Thor Studying cross-pollination between works can be interesting and useful when leveraged toward a particular purpose, but often it's instead used to bring the conversation back to the accepted canon and relegate the lesser known work to a mere satellite of Great Literature.
It's not a conscious thing, just a reflex action to stay safely inside the comfortable narrative.
3:32 AM
Well, much as I'm a fan of Tolkien and the fantasy genre in general, I did post this suggestion out of appreciation of the sagas themselves rather than just what they've influenced.
It's a reflex we'll be likely to encounter with this challenge, just more obviously with something like the Sagas which can be so easily suborned to a work that's already popular with the users.
9 hours later…
12:13 PM
TIL there's a "Sandman's Pouch" in World of Warcraft
1 hour later…
1:23 PM
Q: What does "halter" mean here?

B. Clay ShannonThe following sentence occurs in Mark Twain's sketch Private History of a Campaign that Failed: The drenching we were getting was misery enough, but a deeper misery still was the reflection that the halter might end us before we were a day older. What is meant here by "halter"? Is an obscur...

1:37 PM
2:18 PM
@Skooba Congrats!
That's the ... fourth? ... gold badge awarded so far on Lit.
Or sixth if you count meta.
Woah you got that fast
@Bookworm @BeastlyGerbil Your answer is quite right, but I had to overperform and post another one :-P
@Randal'Thor /file/run/ Happy Dance
@Randal'Thor hehe :P
@Randal'Thor "Their alphabet has letters which are found in (AFAIK) no other alphabet" Meh, you can say that about a lot of languages and writing systems.
2:21 PM
Hope I helped on your own question too
@BeastlyGerbil "got" = systematically achieved ;-)
Well done anyway! Best I've got is 'enlightened' :P
@b_jonas Not many in western Europe.
@BeastlyGerbil Yes, the personal connection was interesting (upvoted your answer), but I'm still hoping for more.
I don't have time right now to research the rest of the story after the hospital, and plus I haven't actually read the story, but might try and expand later
@BeastlyGerbil It's only a few pages long - you should be able to easily read it in ten minutes.
2:25 PM
Looks like an interesting story, so will do later :)
All Borges stories are interesting :-)
"Interesting" is an understatement for most of them.
Never read one before :P
Fascinating, wacky, weird and wonderful.
@BeastlyGerbil You're missing out.
"The Library of Babel", "The Circular Ruins", "The Garden of Forking Paths", "Funes, his Memory", "A Survery of the Works of Herbert Quain" ... all full of crazy ideas.
I shall make a note to read them :)
@Randal'Thor You sure can, if you count letters that occur only rarely. I think ẁ and ẃ are unique to Welsh, the ij digraph (which may or may not count as a letter) is unique to Dutch, if Malta is in western Europe then ħ counts for Maltese. I think ÿ is NOT unique to French proper nouns, but œ is probably unique to French.
If someone who I respect less said this, I'd tell them that they're biased by English, which indeed does not have any letters that aren't used in other languages.
(And that's only if you count modern times. If you get into futhark-variants, you'll find more stuff.)
2:33 PM
@b_jonas But most of these are just variants of letters which are found in many languages. If you don't count diacritics as making new letters, the number is much fewer.
OK, so c-with-cedilla might be unique to French, or e-with-hook to Polish. But these are just variants of c and e.
The eth and thorn are totally different letters.
@Randal'Thor Aren't basically ALL letters we use in latin/cyrillic/greek/hebrew/arabic eventually variants distantly derived from phoenician, except maybe some of the letters used in coptic? I think the eth and thorn are derived from other latin letters too.
Hmm, maybe not. The thorn þ apparently originates from a futhark runes letter that in turn probably doesn't originate from latin or greek (despite that some futhark rune letters do).
I don't understand why that matters too much, and I think you're sort of moving the goalposts now.
The eth ð is probably derived from the latin letter d though, mind you.
@b_jonas Being distantly derived from Phoenician isn't the same as being identical to another modern-day letter with an extra diacritic somewhere.
Admittedly, some languages treat diacritics differently from others.
@Randal'Thor And no, ç is definitely not unique to French. It's used in other European languages including Turkish.
In French, e-with-acute or a-with-circumflex are just treated as variants of e and a. In Scandinavian languages, a-with-circle is treated as its very own letter.
@Randal'Thor "treated as variants" and "treated as its own letter" is so vague. it depends on what purposes, and when, and it gets complicated.
Treated the same in crossword puzzles? Sorted at the same place in alphabetized lists? Gets its own type on old cheap typewriters or printers? Doesn't get its own hole on one of those letter pattern ruler things?
2:41 PM
Sure. But most letters used in western European languages can be argued, at least, to be a small variant of a letter used in, say, English (e.g. that same letter with an extra diacritic). Eth and thorn can't.
@Randal'Thor I'm not sure I buy that about eth. Thorn, maybe.
3:07 PM
A: Are there any recorded discrepancies between The Odyssey as oral tradition and The Odyssey as Homer transcribed it?

VicAcheOn the answer Much of the structure of this answer is based on the very clear history of #The Odyssey# and #The Illiad# written by Nicolas Bertrand in a 2009 Article (PDF). The primary sources discussed are the following, and I will try to reference them more closely in successive edits, but thi...

^ Oh! Really nice extended answer.
Really nice indeed
Although it's somewhat strange, because I really thought the Illiad and Odyssey were canonized way earlier than what this suggests. (Compare this with the Christian bible.)
@Gallifreyan Btw, I hope you appreciated my starred picture in here :-)
Hehe, it's funny when I view that question about the Odyssey (because Em is still editing it), and the sidebar points to the meta post on "Should answers [posted by] authors be treated differently from other answers?"
3:27 PM
@Randal'Thor I did, sounds like a great illustration for that question about author vs. critics
Q: How much weight is given to authors' intentions in literary analysis?

HamletWhen people analyze literature, one of the first things people seem to do is look for interviews or quotes from the author where the author describes the meaning they intended their text to have. My question is: when academics and professors of literature analyze texts, how much weight do they ...

Or this one
Q: The author of a literary work disagrees with critics about meaning—who's right?

Aurora0001I've just come up with a conjecture on what a piece of literature means, but the author has said that they didn't mean for their work to suggest that. For example, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is often considered an iconic book about censorship, but Bradbury says that he didn't write the book a...

14 hours ago, by Rand al'Thor
Brb, editing this into all the meta posts about authorial intent.
@Randal'Thor I wouldn't mind :)
On an unrelated note, this:
Would fit nicely here:
Q: Did the writers of Wonder Woman have some kind of fetish for bondage, in the early comics?

Rishabh SagarI've been reading the golden age comics of Wonder Woman, and she was completely different than she is today. She used to become powerless when chained by a man (by Aphrodite's law) and there were always some incidents where the bad guys capture her and weld her bracelets or tie her with her own ...

@Randal'Thor by the way, didn't we discuss this before?
@Gallifreyan I've definitely made that argument before, but it may have just been in chat rather than on meta.
I don't think we've had a dedicated meta post for country tags vs language tags before now.
@Randal'Thor the answer here discusses it:
Q: Do we need such broad tags on questions about specific works?

GallifreyanIt has come up in chat that the usage and existence of such broad tags as russian-literature or short-stories (or mexico) on questions asking about specific works are debatable. On one hand, they help categorize a question, for the purpose of finding it - and we have agreed that we want to use ...

Voted to dupe-hammer
@Gallifreyan Not in enough detail to warrant a dupe closure, IMO.
It's good to have different meta posts to cover different facets of a topic, rather than trying to shoehorn it all into one.
The new meta post gives us a consensus that language tags > country tags. The old meta post doesn't, because there's so much else in those answers that people might have been upvoting or downvoting them for reasons entirely unrelated to that particular facet of the issue.
3:39 PM
@Randal'Thor but Skooba's answer directly says that we should have language tags rather than country tags
The body of the question is asking about different things, I admit, but the answer addresses the dupe and is upvoted
@Gallifreyan Where? He mentions language-of-origin, but I can't see where he says explicitly that those should be used instead of country tags. And the example he discusses is , which is ambiguous as it could be either.
@Randal'Thor Maybe you're right.

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